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Generic Options to Lower Cholesterol

Currently there is no better way to lower high cholesterol levels than taking medications, known as statins, which are now the first-line treatment options to be recommended for people with high levels of bad cholesterol in blood. Undoubtedly, incorporation of certain lifestyle changes and making healthy food choices remain among the key preconditions of the treatment success.

Nowadays many scientists, doctors and health-care providers glorify statin drugs. Obvious significant effectiveness of statins and their high safety have turned these medications into real blockbusters worldwide. The approval of several generic versions of popular statin medications only enforced the position of the drugs, making them not only effective and safe, but also cost-effective and affordable way of reducing high cholesterol.

According to the evaluations by Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs project, the opportunity to choose generic cholesterol-lowering medications instead of their brand-name analogues may bring a patient up to $1800 saving per year. Indeed, generic pills, being absolutely bioequivalent to their branded analogues, usually cost several times less than the pills with brand name on the package.

Currently there are six representatives of the statin medications, approved by the US Food and Drug Administration: atorvastatin (Lipitor), fluvastatin (Lescol), lovastatin (Altocor, Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), rosuvastatin (Crestor) and simvastatin (Zocor). Three of them are now approved in their generic forms. They are lovastatin, pravastatin and simvastatin, which are available from several pharmaceutical companies, such as Ivax, Ranbaxy, Cobalt, Dr Reddys, Sandoz, Lupin, and others.

The average pricing for the brand-name cholesterol-lowering medications, as well as for their generic alternatives, is presented in the following table:

 
Name of Medication

Generic alternative

Cost of branded pills

Cost of generic pills

Atorvastatin (Lipitor)

No
$255 for 90 pills
 

Fluvastatin (Lescol)

No
$252 for 90 pills
 

Lovastatin (Altocor, Mevacor)

Yes
$183 for 90 pills,
$215 for 90 pills
$60 for 90 pills

Pravastatin (Pravachol)

Yes
$335 for 90 pills
$46 for 90 pills

Rosuvastatin (Crestor)

No
$338 for 90 pills
 

Simvastatin (Zocor)

Yes
$240 for 90 pills
$50 for 90 pills
 
Key facts on statins

First statin medication was developed in the early 1970th in Japan. In 1976 the pharmaceutical company Merck & Co isolated lovastatin, which became the first commercially available statin drug.

All the statin medications work similarly by inhibiting the specific enzyme, called HMG-CoA reductase. This results in the decrease of cholesterol production in human liver. Besides, this also leads to certain wash-out of bad cholesterol from the bloodstream. The first results of statins’ work appear as soon as in one week after the initiation of therapy.

Statins are generally well-tolerated by the majority of patients; and such side effects, as constipation, nausea, headache, abdominal pain or cramps, and muscle pain develop relatively rare. 

Generic statin medications are absolutely the same as their branded counterparts in terms of effectiveness, safety, indications or contraindications. By the way, when choosing a particular statin drug, doctors evaluate many aspects, such as age, blood pressure, presence of diabetes, excessive weight, smoking and general health of a patient. In mild cases of hypercholesterolemia, when it is needed to lower one’s cholesterol level by 30% or less, lovastatin or pravastatin may be recommended. In more complicated cases, when a patient suffers from overweight, obesity, or had a history of heart disorders, simvastatin is more preferred option.

In general, while there is no difference between generic and branded medications, the economical reasons remain the key motivation for switching from branded to generic pills. It is confirmed that such transition can bring significant money saving benefits to all the participants of healthcare system, including patients, hospitals, and insurance institutions. So, if there is a chance to get cholesterol lowering medication for less money without compromising its quality, why should one lose it?

 
Nick


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